Environment minister orders emergency plan for evacuation of potential affectees

Islamabad, March 10: Environment minister Hameedullah Jan Afridi has asked the concerned organizations to prepare emergency evacuation plans for areas a risk of flooding. Chairing a high power meeting here in Islamabad he said that the lake formed on Hunza River poses serious threat to thousands of human beings in upstream and downstream regions.

The meeting was attended by representatives of NDMA, FOCUS Pakistan, WAPDA, NESPAK, ERRA and the ministry of water and power.

Chairperson of FOCUS, Ms. Khadija Shaban,  briefed the minister about the situation on ground and also shared findings of a report compiled by Dr. David Petley during his recent visit of the disaster hit area. Dr. David of the International Landslide Center of Durham University had been invited by FOCUS Pakistan to study the lake barrier and the surrounding areas and recommend future steps.

Khadija from FOCUS in her presentation pointed out that if the river water bursts out it would pose severe kind of difficulties to more than 500,000 people. She underlined the need to release water in phases to ensure minimum damage otherwise the situation would pose real threat to the people.The minister highly appreciated the work done by FOCUS.

The minister said the government is committed to making all possible arrangement to control the landslide situation in Atta Abad, Gilgit-Baltistan and necessary measures would be taken in this regard. About 25,000 people would be cut off from the downstream communities in case of an outburst. Moreover, if such an event occurs, there is a potential for a large flood wave to travel downstream as far as Terbela Dam.

According to the data, the spontaneous outburst would not only render thousands of people homeless but also have a reverse flow impact on Gilgit, Gizer and Skardu rivers like the 1858 floods that had reversed the flow of Kabul river upto 50 kilometre.

The outburst of river would also likely to damage vast area, also threatening lives of more than 15,000 people from Hunza down to Gilgit and more onwards to NWFP upto Tarbela Dam.

As water level in the river had risen to 213 ft by Tuesday and was rising 2 feet daily, the situation will become more dangerous with flow increasing after snow melting as temperature usually rise upto four degree centigrade in April.

The participants of the session were informed that flow in the river is recorded at 64 cusecs in January, 65 in February, 69 in March, 83 in April, 213 in May, 901 in June and 1100 in July.

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  1. Thanks to FOCUS for its institutional effort. All institutions must put their effort together to deal such situation; it’s a moment to test their efficacy, efficiency and effectiveness. Gojal is a test lab for any institution (NGO, GOs ), which they know well, regarding development. Now what institution can do for them, we want to see.

  2. Good progress, thanks to FOCUS team for all their efforts to make the high level govt officials realize the situation. We would like to know and expect that FOCUS should share their disaster management plan with the govt and concerned NGO’s. It is a testing time for all of us, the people stranded up stream (helpless) form two month as well as people facing flooding threat down stream. The leaders and Institutions have to show their efficiency. Let us come together, do our best and try to minimize the possible losses.

  3. Thanks Farman Ali, Dawn for reflecting and providing space in Dawn for highlighting the chronic issue.

    But I am a bit worried about the ownership of this disaster issue,specially release of water. As they say every body’s responsibility is no one’s responsibilty.

    In between NDMA, MoE and Gilgit-Baltistan government the lead respnsibilty must not vanish!

  4. Thank you to FOCUS for highlighting this serious natural disaster issue and inviting an International expert. Now the NMDA has professional report of International expert and they should urgently act on this. There no time to waste. Thank you Dr Petly for visiting this remote areas.

  5. Dua for guidance!!!

    The Environment minister should kindly assess and address the destruction of natural resources and environmental degradation. Land erosion, cutting trees, lose of fertile soil are major environmental issues. The solutions with them are putting people in tents and make people beggars. Why don’t these ministries double the machinery at the working point?

    It is only gup shup………… Looking Busy doing Nothing!!

    Mr. Minister if you have resources to relocate people and meet their daily needs, PLEASE invest it on the Release of Water.

    That would be a better performance…………

    May God show us all the right direction!!

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